Tips For Dreamy Sunset Portraits

As a Chicago Wedding Photographer, there are some photos that my couples are always just dying to have on their wedding day. Whether it be a certain pose, or how they want their photos, etc. However, one question that I consistently get asked is all about sunset portraits. Specifically, if we are able to capture those golden and juicy sunset portraits on their wedding day. Luckily, this is one of my favorite topics to talk about. There is a bit of science and calculating though when it comes to taking sunset portraits. Here are a few tips for dreamy sunset portraits for any couple wanting to glow like Beyonce.

The specifics when it comes to taking sunset portraits are typically discussed via your timeline consultation with me. This is the call where we go over the breakdown of your photography coverage of the day and make sure we’re on the same page before the BIG day. Every wedding day is different, so I work on a case-by-case basis depending on your specific venue and sunset time on your wedding day.

If sunset photographs are important to you, it’s something you need to plan for early on as it takes some planning in order to be outside at just the right moment. Read on for my best tips to make your sunset dream a reality!

Why Should You Consider Taking Sunset Portraits?

Tips For Dreamy Sunset Portraits

On top of the fact that sunset portraits are just downright beautiful, there are many reasons why one may choose to take sunset photos. Taking sunset wedding photos gives you that soft golden glow that photographs beautifully. Oftentimes, your newlywed portrait time may be right in the middle of the day with the harshest light. By taking 20 minutes to hop outside at sunset, you can be sure that you have a few photos of you and your boo in the best lighting possible.

Does The Season Matter When Taking Sunset Portraits?

Tips For Dreamy Sunset Portraits

Short answer, yes! The season can play a role in your sunset portraits when you take them, and how they turn out. So depending on whether or not you want sunset portraits on your wedding day, we must take the time of year into account.


Summer is typically one of the best seasons for sunset portraits. This is because the days are the longest in the Summer months. Meaning when you’re taking portraits throughout the day you are often met with some pretty harsh sunlight. In return, this can cause the images to be very blown out and while that’s certainly a style in itself, it’s not the look that we’re going for. Instead, sunset wedding photos give couples the opportunity to get the perfect amount of lighting for their wedding photos and not worry about the harshness of the mid-day sun.


Winter weddings are a different story when it comes to taking sunset portraits. When it comes to taking sunset portraits during the winter months, you need to keep in mind what time your sun sets. Knowing this, you will also need to make sure that nothing conflicts during your wedding day timeline.

**NOTE: If sunset portraits are especially important for your winter wedding, I recommend planning your entire timeline around when you start to lose that perfect natural light. This is so you don’t accidentally make any important decisions that could deter you from achieving your vision for your wedding photos. The sun sets as early as 4:15 pm in Chicago, so if you’re in the middle of your ceremony or another event that can’t be altered, we may not be able to take those perfect glow portraits. Read on for more on how to perfectly plan your sunset session!

Tips For Dreamy Sunset Portraits

Tips For Dreamy Sunset Portraits

If you’re a couple interested in those magical, sun-soaked images of you and your new spouse, sunset portraits are perfect for you. By allotting at least 20 minutes to head outside during sunset, we can capture photos of you in all the sunlit glory. If you want the real scoop and tips for dreamy sunset portraits, keep reading.

Your Wedding Venue

First, in order for you to plan the perfect time for sunset portraits, you will need to consider your wedding venue. Surprisingly enough, your wedding venue can play a major role when it comes to taking sunset photos. Things such as tall buildings or high tree lines surrounding your venue can influence these photos tremendously. These sorts of things can block out light and cause a mix of shadows and not being able to fully enjoy the beauty of the golden hour.

Typically, I recommend starting Chicago sunset photos around 1 hour prior to sunset. While it sounds extremely early, trust me when I say that the sun likes to sneak behind skyscrapers and tree lines SUPER quick. Better to be safe than sorry!

If you have a clear line of vision to where the sun sets on the horizon, you can start to plan your portraits 30 minutes before the sun sets.

The moral of the story is that your wedding venue and surrounding areas play a HUGE role in your photos. For my clients, I’ll always be sure to build in the best time possible on your day for sunset photographs🤍

Portrait Location

Along with your venue, the actual places where you choose to take your sunset portraits matter a ton! Your photographer and your wedding venue contact will likely have some guidance for you on this particular topic. So ideally, you want to make sure you stay in communication with them and check in!

As a Chicago Wedding Photographer, I typically recommend the highest location possible. This is to soak up as much natural light as possible! This could be the rooftop of your wedding venue or maybe there is a side of the property that the sun hits. Double-checking with your photographer and wedding venue on potential photo location opportunities, especially for golden hour will be majority helpful when it comes to taking your sunset portraits.

Keep In Mind The Weather

As much as we all hate to say it and think it, we have to address it. Weather can be incredibly unpredictable and something that we need to take into account when it comes to taking your sunset portraits. Depending on your wedding date, there may not be a sunny end to your day. You know what though? That’s okay! Should the sun get shy, we always have the option to skip the portraits and you can stay to keep partying the night away.

Since the weather can be such an unpredictable factor, I recommend planning for sunset portraits in your timeline if you’re interested in them at all. Should the weather not cooperate or maybe you change you’re mind and you want to keep partying, we have the option to skip them.

Get In Touch! | Chicago Wedding Photographer

Hey, I’m Emma! A Chicago Wedding and Elopement Photographer ready to document your day in a candid and documentary style. If you liked reading this blog, inquire here, and let’s chat through the vision of your wedding day!

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